Editorial: It’s time to mend financial bridges

The ongoing saga of the pensions mis-selling scandal has moved onto a new chapter this week with the appointment of Ludgate Public Affairs by the Financial Services Authority.

The ongoing saga of the pensions mis-selling scandal has moved onto

a new chapter this week with the appointment of Ludgate Public Affairs

by the Financial Services Authority.



As a central plank of the second stage of the pensions mis-selling

review, Ludgate has been brought in to provide PR support for a planned

direct mailing to 1.8 million people which will alert potential victims

of mis-selling to the steps they need to take to obtain compensation.

The agency will also help the pensions industry prepare and handle

relations with Parliament and bodies such as the Citizen’s Advice

Bureau.



This move onto the offensive marks an important shift in the management

of this public relations debacle.



To date PR activity on the part of those companies ’named and shamed’ by

the former economic secretary for the Treasury Helen Liddell, has mainly

been defensive.



The media has had a field day and seized at every opportunity to sling

mud at some of the giants of the financial services sector, who have in

turn all too often resorted to cheap shots at each other in an attempt

to deflect attention from the misdemeanours of their staff in the late

1980s and early 1990s.



As a result, the overall coverage of the issue to date has been marked

by a dangerous lack of clarity, which has in turn resulted in a

disappointing response to previous calls for potential victims to come

forward. The failure to fully explain the intricacies of the issue to

the man or woman on the street has then been interpreted by the media as

the inevitable response of companies seeking to limit expensive

compensation payouts.



The presentation of a united front by the industry under the auspices of

the FSA, and the move to a more proactive stance can only be good news

for the reputation of the financial services industry as a whole and the

individual companies.



Also welcome is the decision to mount a well co-ordinated integrated

marketing campaign. When it comes to running an educational campaign,

the generation of well balanced editorial explaining fully the issue,

and the offer of compensation now being made, will provide the best

possible endorsement.



The task that now lies ahead for the FSA and its agency Ludgate is to

clarify the situation to a ’lay’ audience, creating a channel of

communication between those companies involved in the pensions

mis-selling scandal and its victims. Thereby authenticating their claims

to be actively seeking to compensate those damaged by the scandal, and

providing a solid platform from which the companies involved can

effectively rebuild trust in their brands.



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